Two stories, one about the dangers of contaminated spinach and another on the NY Times’s ignoring of irradiation as a preventative for food borne illness, show us how the moral posturing and emotional hysteria of the anti-nuclear-power left have not only vastly contributed to global warming, mercury poisoning, strip mining, general air pollution, etc. but have also been responsible for the deaths and maiming of virtually everyone who suffered from food-borne microbial illness in the last 40 years.
Food irradiation is a process by which foods are zapped with a sudden burst of radiation that kills microbes but leaves the food otherwise unaltered. It’s exactly the same process as pasteurization except that it uses radiation instead of heat, with the added benefit that it doesn’t alter the taste or nutritional content of the treated food. It leaves zero radiation in the food. The technique was first developed during WWII and during the next 20 years it was tested, retested and tested again for safety. They force fed generations of lab rats massively irradiated food and never found the least hint of problem. By the early ’60s at the latest, it was proven beyond all doubt that irradiation was a safe and highly effective means of preventing microbial contamination of food.
Despite this overwhelming scientific evidence, ever since the mid-1960s anti-nuclear leftists have demonized irradiation and created such anti-irradiation hysteria that for decades no politician could even think of allowing the irradiation of food, no matter how many lives it would have saved. Virtually everyone who has gotten sick from eggs, meat, vegetables, etc. in the last 40+ years has done so needlessly. The hundreds of immune-compromised people who die of salmonella every year didn’t have to die that way. All of the hundreds of people, many of them children, crippled or killed by E. Coli did not have to suffer. The people killed and maimed by contaminated leafy vegetable didn’t have to die.
How do leftists justify this callous disregard for human suffering? Hubris.
Just as they always do, leftists give more weight to highly hypothetical dangers they imagine decades down the road than they do to people suffering and dying right here, right now. They trust their own self-aggrandizing theories more than they trust the evidence of their own eyes. They have such confidence in their intellects that they can easily convince themselves that people dying now is much better than the far worse consequences that their infallible intellects tell us with divine certainty lie down the road should we not listen to our intellectual betters. So, in their arrogance, they stand by and watch children die while confidently stating that the children’s deaths forestall even worse horrors in the future.
They use the exact same arrogant process to block genetically-engineered foods, even foods engineered to prevent specific short-term harms like blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency.
We should be glad that with irradiation and genetically engineered food we got off relatively easily. The same hubris led the same people to unleash Pol Pot on Cambodia. They confidently predicted that the people of Cambodia would be better off living under the rule of an insane, totalitarian communist than they would be fighting off the communists. Most of the evils of extreme socialism have been justified in the West on the same premise, that it’s better for people to die now for the good of the future that it would be to save lives now and deal with the real (as opposed to the imagined) future when it comes.
Fortunately, in the case of irradiation, deaths from contaminated vegetables have led even vegans to begin to support irradiation to save lives. It’s forty years too late but I suppose we must take what we can get. We can’t always count on being that lucky. We need to be more aggressive in calling leftists out for their willingness to let people die for the sake of their theories. As the stakes get bigger, such as with global warming, we could be looking at body counts too high to measure.